Rim Fire Destroys Family Camp

Rebecca Gluck, Staff Writer

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For some Miramonte students, when a hunter’s fire began the California Rim wildfire on Aug. 17, it destroyed something much more meaningful than tens of thousands of trees.
Besides the fire burning acres of land, it destroyed Camp Tuolumne, a Berkeley family camp beloved by many Bay Area residents for years.
For those who never attended the camp, it will be seen as another casualty of the fire. But for those who spent years at Camp Tuolumne, the loss is much more significant.
“When I heard the news, I was completely devastated. It felt like my home had burned down because that’s how much that place meant to me,” sophomore Carolyn Brager said. Brager had been going to Camp Tuolumne since she was one year old, and her mother attended the camp when she was a kid as well.
The camp served as a second home to Bay Area residents since 1922. “The best part of camp was the sense of community. Everyone was so kind to everyone else. It was just like a huge family. The counselors are also so amazing, and I hoped to become one next summer,” sophomore Lila Hunter-Reay, who attended the camp for 14 years, said.
Camp Tuolumne allowed family members to bond with each other and with other families through daily activities such as arts, crafts, hiking, swimming, and other sports. During the evening programs, campers could enjoy  s’mores around a campfire, sing campfire songs, and relax along the peaceful Tuolumne River, located about two hours east of Orinda.
“So many of my ‘firsts’ happened there. There’s this rock in the middle of the river called Beaverhead Rock. It’s hard to get on because there’s a really strong current pushing you. A lot of adults can’t get on. When I was six though, I managed to get on, and it’s something I’ll never forget,” Hunter-Reay said.
Freshman Mary Clare Metherd, who attended the camp since she was five months old, agreed that jumping off Beaverhead Rock was one of her favorite things to do at camp. She also enjoyed that there was never a dull moment at Camp Tuolumne.
Of the 80 buildings the camp had before the fire, all that remains are 12 to 16 cabins, the restroom, and the “Camp Tuolumne” sign, all of which have some degree of damage. The dining hall, recreation hall, amphitheater, and two bridges were demolished.
A contractor is currently working to remove the debris from the camp. Its restoration is uncertain and depends on whether or not agencies that lease the land to Berkeley will allow the building of structures based on modern plumbing and various other regulations.
“The City of Berkeley Parks and Waterfront Commission voted to issue a statement to the City Council, urging them to pursue funding and to renew the permit with the US Forest Service so that Camp could be rebuilt. We don’t have the language recorded verbatim, but it is expected to go before the City Council during the first week of November, 11/04,” the Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Facebook page stated.
Brager, Hunter-Reay, and Metherd are all enthusiastic about the possibility of rebuilding the camp. “I’m hoping to be able to go up to one of the work weekends and help rebuild camp. When it’s rebuilt, I want to continue going there for forever,” Hunter-Reay said.

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